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Do I Still Need Sunscreen If My Foundation Has SPF?

Makeup with SPF may be enough to protect your skin from the sun — or not.
June 22, 2022

We constantly stress the importance of protecting your skin from UV damage by applying SPF daily. We also suggest using moisturizer with sunscreen for built-in protection while you hydrate your skin. But you may be left wondering: If I wear foundation with SPF in the formula, do I still need to wear sunscreen? 

We consulted with Dr. Michelle Henry, NYC-based board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant, to find out the truth about whether sunscreen makeup really works for sun protection, and what is the most effective way to layer SPF and makeup. 

Is Makeup With SPF As Good As Sunscreen? 

If you wear foundation or other makeup products with SPF, you might think it’s okay to skip applying sunscreen. But according to Henry, you should think again. 

“When we apply makeup, we don’t apply it as evenly as we apply sunscreen,” she says. “When sunscreen is tested for its protection, it’s applied in a much thicker layer than makeup is.” She explains that you’re simply not applying enough of the makeup on your skin to garner the full SPF benefits. 

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, in order to adequately protect your skin, you need to apply two tablespoons full of SPF to your body, and at least one nickel size amount of SPF to your face. Chances are, the average person isn’t applying that much foundation over their complexion — especially in the summer and especially if it’s full coverage. 

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) also recommends that everyone wears a sunscreen that offers SPF of 30 or greater — which isn’t always the case for the SPF found in foundations. Some SPF is better than none if we’re talking additional protection, but the amount in your foundation just may not cut it by derm standards.

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How to Apply Makeup and Sunscreen the Right Way

Now that you know that makeup with SPF is not enough to protect your skin from sun damage on its own, you may be wondering how you should layer makeup and sunscreen. 

“I recommend applying SPF first and then applying your makeup on top of it,” says Henry. “It’s a better way to be certain that you’re getting the proper SPF protection.” 

If you’re looking to cut down on steps in your skin care routine, you can also opt for a moisturizer with SPF in it rather than a separate moisturizer and sunscreen. “We tend to apply moisturizers similarly to how we apply sunscreen 一 with a thicker layer,” Henry explains. “I would suggest applying a moisturizer with SPF in a thick layer if you’re using it as SPF.” 

We love the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30 because it’s hydrating, lightweight, works to address fine lines and wrinkles, and provides broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection. 

3 Best Foundations With SPF

While applying sunscreen foundation alone will not provide the proper sun protection your skin needs, there’s no harm in layering sunscreen and makeup with SPF. Who doesn’t want as much sun protection as possible? Check out some of our favorite foundations with SPF below. 

L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation with SPF 50

Formulated with SPF 50, this lightweight, hydrating serum foundation evens out the skin tone and provides a gorgeous radiant finish. It’s a great option if you have mature skin because it won’t settle into fine lines and wrinkles.

L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation, Lightweight

This longwearing, medium-to-full coverage foundation beautifully blurs imperfections while providing SPF 25 protection for the skin. It’s breathable, non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types.

L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Makeup

When you want a buildable foundation that has a true skin-like finish, reach for this formula, made with vitamin E, vitamin B5 and SPF 17. It’s super hydrating and blends so seamlessly so that no one can tell that you’re wearing makeup — they’ll just think you always have fabulous skin.

Next: How to Pick the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin Type

Updated by: Shalwah Evans, Written by: Alyssa Kaplan, Photography: Chaunte Vaughn, Senior Art Direction: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Senior Visual Designer: Hannah Packer, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Assistant: Victoria Ochoa, Digital Tech: Kyle Thompson, Model: AnnChristine Velazquez

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